Engineer outsmarts rewards program to earn 1.2 million air miles

2013-09-19 17:48
As consumers we all love getting a little something back. Whether it be using our credit card to earn miles or receiving points when purchasing items from preferred providers. But just how carefully do you read the terms and conditions?

Gizmodo reports David Phillips, a civil engineer who teaches at the University of California read his very carefully. So carefully in fact that he managed to convert about 12 150 cups of Healthy Choice chocolate pudding into over a million Air Miles.

But just how did this king of all virtually free travel do it?

Healthy Choice was having a promotion on their frozen entrées section. The company guaranteed every person who sent in 10 bar codes of their product, 500 Air Miles in return. In addition to that, the company was offering an early-bird reward to double the 500 air miles if the 10 bar codes were sent in within the first month of the competition.

That meant for every 10 Healthy Choice bar codes received, a person would earn 1 000 Air miles.

What Phillips did next was pure genius. He scoured his local supermarkets to see which of the products on offer would give him the best potential return.

His search pinpointed a Healthy Choice chocolate pudding for as little as 25 cents. This meant that for $US2.50 (about R24.50 at R9.66/$) Phillips could get 1 000 Air Miles.

Realising the amazing return he was potentially able to receive, Phillips set out to buy all the Healthy Choice pudding in each store, within this particular chain.

Surely this type of freakish behaviour would arouse suspicion? One individual, requesting all the chocolate puddings, even the stock held at the back of the store!? Phillips response was simple - he told people he was stocking up for a potential disaster or apocalypse.

He then roped in the family, with his wife getting blisters from ripping off the bar codes. Not to mention his kids, neighbours, co-workers and friends reaching breaking point due to him practically shoving the chocolate pudding down their throats.

Running the risk of missing the early-bird deadline Phillips came up with the second part of his ingenious plan.

He approached the local Salvation Army, requesting a bunch of volunteers to peel off all the bar codes on his pudding. In return he’d donate the pudding to them. Add to that, Phillips knew that by making the donation he would be able to claim just over $US800 back in tax deductions at the end of the year.

In the end he spent just over $US3 000 (About 28 960 at 9.66/$), less the $800 tax return (about R7 728) on pudding - and in return got in excess of 1 280 000 miles valued at about $US150 000 (about R1.4 million).

But the benefits didn’t end there - officially Phillips had over a million miles in his frequent flyer accounts, which automatically gave him lifelong access to something called the “American Airlines AAdvantage Gold club”, with a number of flying-related perks for the rest of their lives.

It is believed Phillips will never run out of miles since he is earning them five times faster than what he is spending them, through similar methods. With over 4 million miles in his various accounts he and his family have flown to over 20 countries and taken numerous vacations in the meantime.

Read more on:    flights  |  travel international

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